Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

German Catholic priests 'abused thousands of children'

German Catholic priests 'abused thousands of children'

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The study was carried out by a team of investigators from three German universities-Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Gießen-under the auspices of the German Bishops' Conference.

"It is depressing and shameful for us", Bishop Stephan Ackermann said. He added that the organisation would issue a statement later on Wednesday.

The leaked study was published on the day that Pope Francis, who has made several attempts to tackle a spreading sexual abuse crisis that has badly tarnished the Church's image, summoned senior bishops from around the world to the Vatican to discuss the protection of minors.

The Vatican had no immediate comment on the Spiegel report.

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Most of the victims were boys, and more than half were aged 13 or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, the report also reveals.

Der Spiegel, quoting from an executive summary that is included in the leaked official report, wrote that there was evidence that some files and archives had been "destroyed or manipulated".

A Church spokesman said it was "dismayed and ashamed" by the findings. I am convinced that the study is a comprehensive and thorough survey that provides figures and analysis from which we will continue to learn. "Four years ago we commissioned the study and we bishops in particular are facing up to the results".

Only one third of those accused had to face legal proceedings by the Church and sanctions, if imposed at all, were minimal, it said, adding that 4 percent of those found to have committed sexual abuse were still working. Just today, the Pope authorized an investigation into claims that a West Virginia bishop - whose retirement Francis just happened to accept today as well - sexually harassed adults.This comes in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report documenting the sexual abuse and assaults of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of Catholic priests.

Last month, a grand jury in the US state of Pennsylvania released the findings of the largest-ever investigation of sex abuse into the Catholic Church in the United States, finding that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.

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